To be honest we just couldn't look past Air New Zealand's option to turn up on the day and purchase a casual membership for their airline lounge in Sydney.
For $110 for the whole family ($55 each per adult and kids were free), we were able to get access to the lounge for the whole time we were in transit.
This meant resting our weary bodies (which had been up since 3.30am) on comfortable couches and gave us a serene and quiet space to relax away from the hubbub of the main airport.
If that wasn't enough of an incentive then unlimited food and drink sure was! Starting with a range of options for breakfast - cooked breakfast items, toasted breads, cereals, yoghurts and fruit so of course the first thing we did arriving in at 8am local time was indulge in our second breakfast of the day.
A couple of hours later, the morning tea services rolled out with mini tuna wraps, scones with cream and jam, toasted English muffins with cheese, a range of sweet and savoury muffins, not to mention a whole cart filled with hot dogs!
Just when we felt like we'd sufficiently digested morning tea, the lunch service arrived with a range of toasted sandwiches (including gluten-free bread - yussssss!) and salads.
I lost count of how many cups of green tea Mark made himself as well as a mocha, I definitely had at least two hot herbal teas, and being able to get soft drinks for the kids and access to unlimited filtered water for this water-crazy gal was so handy. Of course we could have gotten right into the wine and beer but with niggling headaches from the first flight and the thought of the 15-hour journey ahead this was not that appealing!
Also having access to free Wifi (during which time I wrote this post!), luxurious shower facilities (so refreshing when you know you've got another 15 hour flight ahead), and a kids play area was just the cream on the top!
If we'd been slumming it out in the airport, I think we'd have easily racked up $50 for lunch and another $20-$30 for snacks and water during that time anyway so in my opinion it was money very well spent.
Of course there is always the risk you turn up on the day and the lounge is at capacity so you do have to take your chances there, but on the whole it actually made the long wait a - dare I say it - entirely enjoyable experience.
Sydney isn't the only lounge on the Air New Zealand route where you can purchase casual access to a lounge. For more information check out the international lounge options for ad-hoc customers here.